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Symbolic lighting of Dražen Petrović’s torch from the 1987 Universiade

11/7/2016

News - Symbolic lighting of Dražen Petrović’s torch from the 1987 Universiade

Biserka Petrović, mother of the legendary late Croatian basketball player Dražen Petrović, and Hrki lighted the torch and thus symbolically brought the Universiade and the European Universities Games Zagreb – Rijeka 2016 at the very place which bears Dražen’s name and was built in 1987.

Dražen’s torch from the 1987 Universiade was lighted on the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Dražen Petrović Museum and Memorial Centre, and ahead of the European Universities Games Zagreb – Rijeka 2016.

There are few of those who have not heard of Dražen Petrović, an exceptional athlete and an even better person. Dražen, who always managed to put a smile on people’s faces. Drazen, who, even 23 years after his death, still lives in the hearts of people all over the world. Dražen, the great pride of Croatia. It was Dražen who led the participants’ parade (consisting of 6500 students) at the opening ceremony of the 1987 Universiade.

At the biggest sporting event ever at the time, the 1987 Universiade, Dražen lighted the light of Croatian sport, the torch of peace, which travelled from Zagreb all the way to Hiroshima. The European Universities Games Zagreb – Rijeka 2016 are the biggest sporting event in Croatia since its independence, and the torch was lit once again, albeit not by Dražen himself. Biserka Petrović, mother of the legendary Croatian basketball player Dražen Petrović, and Hrki lighted the torch installation and thus symbolically brought together the Universiade and the European Universities Games Zagreb – Rijeka 2016, at the very place which bears Dražen’s name and was built in 1987.

The formal ceremony at the Dražen Petrović Museum and Memorial Centre was opened and closed with a performance of the Zagreb Philharmonic, and the director of the museum Aleksandra Vlatkovic gave the opening speech.

Biserka Petrović mentioned all those who contributed to this project and gave letters of thanks to the Croatian Ministry of Culture, Ivica Lovrić, the Head of the City Department of Education, Culture and Sport of the City of Zagreb, Zlatko Mateša, the President of the Croatian Olympic Board, and the Zagreb Tourist Board.

She specifically spoke to Aleksander Petrović, head coach of the Croatian national basketball team, and congratulated the team on qualifying for the Olympic Games by saying: “You’ve carried your brother’s spirit and shown that no one is invincible.’’ Ahead of the European Universities Games she had words of encouragement for our competitors: “I can only say that Dražen lighted the flame not only as an athlete, but as the best student as well. Someone who is a student can also be the best athlete, and the best athlete can be the best student, and that is actually Dražen’s message.’’

Zrinko Čustonja, president of the European Universities Games Zagreb – Rijeka 2016, also gave a speech, and admitted that he had not been aware of the amount of work awaiting him he first got involved into this project, although that made him admire his 1987 predecessors even more. Ahead of the opening ceremony on Wednesday, July 13, he said: “Just as Dražen had an important role at the Universiade, Aco Petrović will also have an important role this year. Thus the two brothers will bring together the story of these two competitions. But, to find out what that role is, you will have to come to the opening.’’

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